Sunday, January 3, 2010

Farm fresh, no guilt.

The Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture runs a large farmer's market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The CUESA site has great vendor profiles that describe the farms and their practices. Most are small, organic farms that subscribe to the sustainable agriculture school of thought. I went through the vendor profiles pretty thoroughly and found a farm that I think meets my requirements. Marin Sun Farms (see also, their CUESA profile) sells eggs, meat, and poultry at the farmer's market. They also have a CSA program and supply several high-end restaurants in the Bay Area. We decided to start with the market. Yesterday we got up early, loaded our wheeled cooler with ice, and headed up to the city. The farmer's market was easy to get to (a short walk from the Embarcadero BART station) and, since it has been rainy and gloomy out, was not too crowded. The booth for Marin Sun Farms exceeded my expectations. They had a wide variety of chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, goat, and pig parts and, of course, my long-awaited ethical eggs! All of the meat was vacuum sealed and labeled, so they were clean and easy to transport back home and into our freezer. The eggs looked really interesting; there was such a variety of colors! They are more delicate than industrial eggs, but we had no trouble getting them home intact. We usually cook three dinners to get through a week and are planning to have only one include meat or poultry, so we purchased four different cuts to get us through the next month. We ended up with chicken breasts, pork stew meat, a sirloin tip roast, and ground lamb. Some of the meat seemed more expensive than what we get at Trader Joe's, but I'll wait to discuss that until I can go check the numbers. The eggs were definitely more expensive, and the price is extra high during the winter when the hens produce fewer eggs. We paid $8 for a dozen medium eggs. Another vendor, Eatwell Farm, also sells ethical eggs for the same price and has an extra option of smaller eggs for $6.50 per dozen. To finish up our trip, we picked up some organic broccoli, potatoes, and squash. In the future, I think we'll purchase more fruits and veggies on our monthly trip to this farmer's market or perhaps join a CSA program. Overall, I thought our first attempt to buy ethical food was a great success!

(If you are looking for an ethical farm in your area, check out Eat Wild. Farmer's markets can generally be found with a quick Google search.)

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